Founded in 1983, the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that works directly with California State Parks and other key stakeholder groups to protect, restore, enhance and preserve Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, a State Marsh Natural Preserve.

Dedicated to the restoration of Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, its associated uplands and the preservation of land for scenic, historic, educational, recreational, agricultural, scenic and open space opportunities.

– Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Foundation’s Mission Statement.



Currently retired, Frank joined LPLF in 1986 as the representative for the City of San Diego.  With a background in civil engineering, Frank served several high-level positions at the City of San Diego that included Director of Engineering and Capital Projects, Director of the Water Department Director and Deputy City Manager.  Frank was instrumental in helping coordinate efforts with the private and public sector in the San Diego region from his years of experience and leadership at the City of San Diego.  Frank left the City of San Diego to work in the private sector at Parsons Corporation in 2005 before finishing his career at the San Diego Water Authority as their Deputy General Manager.




Darren is a Senior Environmental Scientist at California State Parks. He serves on the LPLF Board of Directors as the representative and liaison to California State Parks San Diego Coast District as their Natural Resources and Planning Manager (2003-Present).  Darren has an extensive background in natural resources conservation that includes restoration, protection, and maintenance of natural resources for State Park managed lands. Darren has been the District lead for recent projects including Torrey Pines Climate Ready Reforestation, San Diego Coast District Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment, Cardiff Living Shoreline, species and habitat inventories for the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Enhancement Plan, and Lead Agency representative for the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Enhancement Plan’s Programmatic Environmental Impact Report certified under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Darren is also working on several statewide programs including the Sea Level Rise Adaptation Leadership Team, Hike and Bike Program, and Vegetation Management Program.




Shelly joined the LPLF Board of Directors in 2018 as representative of the scientific community.  A principal scientist with over 20 years of experience conducting field and laboratory studies related to eco-toxicology and sediment quality characterization, Shelly’s expertise centers on field study design, sediment characterization, water and sediment testing and analysis, implementation strategies for dredge material management, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) compliance, and California Sediment Quality Objectives (SQOs) application.  Shelly has taught courses on the analysis and TMDLs, interpretation of toxicity testing, SQOs, and assessing ecological risk in contaminated sediments.  In 2017, Shelly started Latitude Environmental Inc where specialized in focusing on the integration of multiple lines of evidence to determine water quality and sediment quality for her clients that included the Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, City of Newport Beach, and the City of Long Beach.  In 2019, Latitude Environmental was acquired by Moffatt & Nichol, where Shelly currently serves as Vice President and Coastal Water Environmental Group Lead for Southern California.




Sumer joined the LPLF Board of Directors as a representative of the City of San Diego, the primary municipality with jurisdiction over Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.  Since 2008, Sumer has served as a Senior Civil Engineer at the City of San Diego’s Storm Water Division, where she is currently the Deputy Director.  Sumer’s expertise includes leading efforts in establishing storm water standards related to design and construction requirements for private and public development within the City of San Diego.  Sumer currently oversees several programs at the City of San Diego’s Storm Water Division that range from storm water management and compliance to design-build projects that include a multi-benefit capital improvement project for Sorrento Valley and Los Peñasquitos Lagoon that integrates floodway improvements and sediment management with enhancement of a riparian corridor and large-scale restoration of salt marsh and other habitats native to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.




Jason came to the LPLF Board of Directors from the technology sector where he accumulated over 304 granted international patents.  Jason’s professional experience includes serving as a Vice President for Qualcomm’s Technology and Intellectual Property Management (2012-2018) where he led their IP Product Strategy via leadership of interdisciplinary Strategic Planning, Business Intelligence and Product Planning teams.  More recently, Jason has concurrent roles in several tech companies including JackRabbit Mobility (mini E-Bike), 5G4U (enterprise cellular networks), and CYNGN (enterprise autonomous vehicle systems).  An avid hiker and trail runner, Jason also brings his passion for the outdoors to the Foundation along with his skills as a business leader, entrepreneur, and inventor.




Mike brings his passion for the lagoon as a local resident and decades of experience as a board member to LPLF.  His volunteer board and officer positions range from the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board and Del Mar Foundation to Just in Time for Foster Youth and Mission Driven Finance, just to name a few. Prior to relocating to San Diego, Mike was Chairman of the Board for private entities including Noble Environmental Power (the largest wind power generator in New York State with $2 billion invested capital) and DavCo Restaurants (with 5,000 employees across 150 locations), as well as a Director of MSD Capital, Michael Dell’s family office.  Earlier in his career, Mike worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, where he met his wife, Erica.  They feel very fortunate to be raising their three children at the edge of this treasured environmental resource.




Mike joined LPLF in 2000 as a project manager and environmental coordinator before becoming Executive Director in 2002.  His main responsibilities include program development and implementation, project management, permit acquisition and compliance, fundraising, education/outreach, and stakeholder collaboration.  His multi-disciplinary background facilitates his ability to assemble and manage some of the brightest minds in wetland ecology, coastal planning, marine science, engineering, construction, habitat restoration, modeling, environmental law and policy, and hydrology. Mike has raised over $20,000,000 to fund coastal habitat restoration including helping to establish an endowment to fund annual inlet maintenance in perpetuity and spearheading a large-scale habitat restoration and enhancement project at Los Peñasquitos Lagoon that will recover up to 86 acres of historic salt marsh in an area currently dominated by invasive grass.  Other efforts Mike is currently pursuing is developing education and outreach programs to Tribal youth and supporting applied science programs in local schools and universities that include UCSD and Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  When he’s not at the office or in the field, Mike enjoys spending time with his family exploring nature, surfing or coaching his sons in baseball and soccer.


We pride ourselves in our commitment to adaptive management, as coastal lagoons represent one of the more complex and dynamic systems within the coastal zone. LPLF is also one the first lagoon foundations to have a certified enhancement plan, the 1985 Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Enhancement Plan and Program. Since that time, the Foundation has succeeded in helping restore, enhance, and preserve Los Peñasquitos Lagoon using adaptive management facilitated by a 34-year continuous monitoring program established by Joy Zedler and the Pacific Estuarine Research Lab. The monitoring program is currently conducted by wetland scientists from the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve that use data compiled at Los Peñasquitos Lagoon to help guide management decisions on both a localized and regional perspective. Some of our accomplishments include:

  • Successful coordination of stakeholder participation to help restore the Lagoon to a functioning system and support ongoing lagoon management since 1983.
  • Pioneers of “adaptive management” in coastal estuaries of Southern California.
  • Selected as a pilot watershed by State Resource Agency to help guide policy development and decisions for coastal watersheds.
  • 34 years of continuous monitoring of water quality and lagoon habitats.
  • 34 years of succesfuly managing the inlet to maintain tidal connectivity needed to preserve the Lagoon’s natural ecology.
  • Coordinated efforts with the City of San Diego to eliminate direct discharges of sewage into the Lagoon from 3 treatment plants operating within the watershed.
  • Ongoing coordination with scientists from the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve to provide both local and regional perspectives of coastal estuary management needs and priorities.
  • Awarded over $3 million by the State of California and the Federal Government to address non-point source pollution from the watershed
  • Awarded over $1.1 million by the County of San Diego to integrate lagoon restoration and management with vector management priorities for public health and safety.
  • Helped develop a third-party Sediment Total Maximum Daily Load that includes salt marsh restoration as a compliance target.
  • Updated the 1985 Los Peñasquitos Lagoon Enhancement Plan using a stakeholder process and technical analysis to develop a phased approach to large-scale restoration of the Lagoon’s native salt marsh and transitional habitats.
  • Awarded $183,320 in Prop 1 funds by the State Coastal Conservancy in 2016 to complete CEQA for the updated Lagoon Enhancement Plan and provide oversight in the Design and Feasibility Study for large-scale salt marsh restoration in Los Peñasquitos Lagoon (currently underway).

Current Projects